Machinex Industries Inc.

MRF design challenges with bluewater recycling association


Courtesy of Courtesy of Machinex Industries Inc.

Machinex helped Bluewater Recycling Association, Huron Park, Ontario, make the move to single-stream processing by addressing its unique needs.

When Bluewater Recycling Association, Huron Park, Ontario, was ready to adopt single-stream processing, its leadership knew the organization’s previous approach of designing and building its own processing equipment would be too much of a gamble. “The project was too large to handle in house, and we wanted to incorporate the latest technology in screens and optical sorters into our design,” says Francis Veilleux, president of Bluewater Recycling Association, which provides recycling services to more than 20 municipalities representing nearly 70,000 households.

Prior to the group’s decision to convert to single-stream recycling, Bluewater researched the topic for more than five years, Veilleux says. “It’s always easier to learn from everyone else’s mistakes.”

He says Bluewater was not happy with what most systems manufacturers had to offer. “It was always more of the same designs with lots of people, low quality [and] with no real innovative solutions.”

The group’s perception changed when it met with Machinex, Plessisville, Quebec. “Machinex was the only company willing to sit down and share ideas,” Veilleux says. “Their young and energetic team always showed up without any preconceived ideas and they were open to our ideas.”

Quality Over Quantity

Bluewater wanted its material recovery facility (MRF) to focus on quality rather than quantity, Veilleux says. “Many single-stream facilities were designed to handle large quantities of materials with little regard to the quality of the end product or the amount of residue generation,” he says. “We knew our facility was relatively small in single-stream standards, and our volumes were never going to be huge by any stretch of the imagination.”

Despite its relatively small volume of incoming material, Bluewater still wanted its single-stream MRF to employ the latest technology available. “We wanted the most technology possible in the facility, with redundant systems using alternate technologies to maximize the sorting efficiency of the system,” Veilleux says. “Our limited budget meant that we had to be creative.”

Creative Thinking

This creativity can be seen in the optical sorter used on the container line. Veilleux says Bluewater uses a 9-foot-2-inch wide optical sorter, which he believes is among the widest in the world, to perform more than 400,000 ejections per hour. “That single machine has three channels with dualeject valves to effectively separate up to seven commodities, but we use it for five commodities—wrongfully placed paper, HDPE (high-density polyethylene), PET (polyethylene terephthalate), mixed plastics and residue—before also peradvertisement forming independent batch process secondary quality control on the HDPE and PET to elevate their purity to 98 percent right out of the machine,” he says.

Bluewater’s separation system also makes use of a second optical sorter on the mixed fiber line, which removes nonpaper contamination.

Glass is removed from Bluewater’s system early in the process to reduce wear and tear on the equipment, Veilleux says.

“As such, it is the first item screened out after OCC in our system.” He adds, “We also knew that a 2-inch screen was not a ‘glass’ separator, so we anticipated getting anything 2 inches and smaller in that mix. As a result, we have a ‘fines’ treatment process to manage that material so we can in fact market glass as glass, free of paper and metals.”

Staffing Issues

Bluewater also was concerned about reducing downtime related to worker absences. “Machinex cleverly designed the system where we can operate with as few as seven people and as many as 22,” Veilleux says. “During an average day we use 12 [sorters] and, if we have less, we can slow down the system and redistribute the workforce to maintain the operation. In busier times, we can bring in extra staff and raise the speed of the entire system.”

He adds, “We wanted a sustainable system where the equipment did most of the sorting and we rely on the people for their soft touch precision quality control.”

Veilleux concludes, “Machinex was the only company that understood our vision and was willing to try new methodologies. They understand that a single-stream facility is not a dual-stream facility with a presort.” He adds, “They bring a lot of design experience to the table, understanding the intricate challenges that single-stream processing can present. We could not have asked for a better partner to develop our solution.”

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